My Fling with the Flu by Jane Suter aka Plain JaneKids pass on colds and the flu like miniature valets of disease. So it didn’t surprise me when my own little biohazard jumped into bed with us, aflame with plague. My husband rolled over and I embraced the pestilence. After a fitful night, my son was feeling better, and I was exhausted. I was also infected. I could feel the storm of illness brewing inside me, but pressed on. We all know it’s illegal for moms to be sick.

But it was coming, so I made the official announcement to my disbelieving husband. “I’m getting the flu,” I asserted. “Really?” he replied, as if I had just told him I landed a job as a cocktail waitress on a pirate ship. Then silence. If I could read his mind right then (and I could), he was thinking, “No way. She’s not really sick. She’ll be fine.” As I left him to ponder the gathering storm, he began searching for the can of Lysol. I was pretty sure he was going to bathe in it.

Hours later, I put the boys to bed. My raw throat and headache hail the onslaught of doom. Oh yeah, I am a day away from embracing a carton of Puffs Plus and sipping Nyquiltini’s. My hair will soon be in a scrunchy, PJs and slippers will be my uniform, and I will be ugly ill.

But I stayed positive in a tsunami of denial and false hope. I knew if I DID get the flu, the entire infrastructure of my family’s life would implode in a groaning whomp! And so it did.

Imperative Requests

My rendezvous with the flu went like this:

Day 1:

My brain is the size of a bacon bit, and I retreat to the sofa. Like an unemployment line of hungry, helpless, wee people, my kids wait for me to stir or cough before approaching my face. One by one the imperative requests pile up: “May I have a piece of gum? May I have a cookie? Do you mind if I get out the glue? May I cut the dog’s hair?” I grant every request with a weak wave of my hand. They have me at their mercy. I am helpless, and they know it. The inmates have taken over. Attica!

Day 2:

My home is a wild west town of outlaws, complete with dust-bunny tumbleweeds. I finally lift my head up long enough to witness the wreckage. I will myself to get vertical and shuffle through the kitchen. An open peanut butter jar, banana peels, and cracker crumbs litter the island. I whimper and look away; maybe it will disappear.

Because I am my own nurse, I nuke some hot tea with honey and retreat back to the couch. But there is no rest for the weary. I realize, as I lie there expiring, the maid doesn’t get a day off.

Day 3:

The haze is lifting and I decide I cannot be sick any longer. Another day of this and our house will be condemned by the health department. I grab my garbage bag of tissues and clear a path to the dining room. I stumble around in a medicated stupor, feeling as pathetic as my dog looks (yeah, they cut his hair). I rally the troops and start barking orders. “Yay, Mom is feeling better!” exclaims my son. Indeed I am, now that the post-apocalyptic clean-up has commenced. The sheriff is back in the saddle, though a little wobbly.

At sunset my husband calls, again, to see if I’m feeling better. I swear he thinks he can stalk the illness out of me. He offers to bring home take-out and tells me he will do the laundry when he gets home. It is here where I allow my evil counterpart to take over. I cough and blow my nose, letting out a frail “Thank you.” Can you blame me? After all, who can resist free laundry service? Of course, tomorrow I will resume my life as a domestic enforcer. But tonight I will wallow in the cool mud of my sty, surrounded by my little Petri dishes of disease—and loving every molecule of them.

Jane Suter is one funny mom. You can write to Jane. Illustration by Colleen Johnson.

Have you had the flu? How was your experience?